Is regulating your nervous system the secret to healing your gut?Nov 20, 2022
Whether it’s from work, family life, or even financial tension, we all get stressed from time to time. It’s not the situations themselves that can lead to health issues, it’s HOW you deal with stress that affects your overall health.
Maybe you’ve heard the saying that “stress kills”. While that remains to be true, recently scientists have been investigating how the nervous system impacts your gut health and whether regulating your nervous system can heal your gastrointestinal tract.
In this article, we dive into the scientific explanation of the nervous system and how exactly it impacts your health as well as some suggestions on how to reduce stress and restore balance in your body..
NERVOUS SYSTEM REGULATION EXPLAINED
Your nervous system plays a vital role in regulating many of the body's important functions, including digestion. When something goes wrong with your nervous system regulation, it can have a major impact on your gut health.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN SNS AND PNS?
There are two main types of nervous system regulation: the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) and the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS). The SNS is responsible for the "fight or flight" response, while the PNS is responsible for rest and digestion. When both systems are working properly, they maintain balance in the body.
However, when there is an imbalance between the SNS and PNS, it can lead to digestive problems. For example, if the SNS is constantly activated due to something like chronic stress, it can lead to a condition called "sympathetic overdrive." This can lead to symptoms such as diarrhea, constipation, and abdominal pain.
There are several things that can cause an imbalance between the SNS and PNS, including stress, certain medications, and underlying health conditions.
HOW DOES STRESS NEGATIVELY IMPACT YOUR GUT-HEALTH?
Stress is a major contributing factor to nervous system imbalances and, as a result, gut issues. When we're stressed, our bodies release the hormone cortisol. This "stress hormone" can have a number of harmful effects on the body, including:
- Decreasing immune function
- Increasing inflammation
- Disrupting digestion
- Damaging the lining of the gut
Cortisol can also lead to weight gain, high blood pressure, and other health problems. In extreme cases, stress can even be deadly. A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that people who were under chronic stress were more likely to die from heart attacks than those who weren't.
HOW DOES BALANCING YOUR NERVOUS SYSTEM AID IN HEALING YOUR GUT-HEALTH?
The nervous system is in charge of many automatic processes in the body, including digestion. When there is an imbalance between the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) and the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS), it can lead to digestive problems.
So, if you're feeling stressed, it's important to find ways to relax and take care of yourself. Meditation, yoga, deep breathing, affirmations, hypnotherapy and other relaxation techniques can help to reduce stress levels and improve gut function. Low to moderate exercise is also a great way to relieve stress and improve overall health.